[Edu-sig] re: The trackball reality

Arthur ajs at optonline.net
Fri Oct 24 18:10:08 EDT 2003

Jim writes -

>As an alternative view, the programming language that I found most
>productive in the past and that made me understand OOP was Prograph.

You thankfully disarm me in talking about your personal experience, not that
of subjects. And it would be stupid of me to argue that your experience is
not your experience.

I also discussed with my HCI professor my frustration in trying to
communicate with acamadicians about these matters.  My starting point  - not
long ago - being unaware of there even being a field called HCI.

But knowing my own experience. And unwilling to accept that a naive view -
on these matters - is not a substantive view, nonetheless.  And allowing
myself some cynicism in respect to what is being passed off as "informed".
Which is derivative of other cynicisms, no doubt. Having my own sense of
what informed might mean, when assessing the academic approach to some of
these matters.

That being said, I was told that my postion had some resonance with some of
what he has read from Jakob Nielson, and he recommended I take a look.
Nielsen apparently a highly influential man in the world of HCI.

The most on point thing I come up with is

"The Anti-Mac Interface"

Besides talking about the "central role of language" in this alternative
view, come  this:
Expert Users
The GUIs of contemporary applications are generally well designed for ease
of learning, but there often is a trade-off between ease of learning on one
hand, and ease of use, power, and flexibility on the other hand. Although
you could imagine a society where language was easy to learn because people
communicated by pointing to words and icons on large menus they carried
about, humans have instead chosen to invest many years in mastering a rich
and complex language. Today's children will spend a large fraction of their
lives communicating with computers. We should think about the trade-offs
between ease of learning and power in computer-human interfaces. If there
were a compensating return in increased power, it would not be unreasonable
to expect a person to spend several years learning to communicate with
computers, just as we now expect children to spend 20 years mastering their
native language.

I reproduce it as thought provoking, not gospel. Certainly Nielson himself
is not presenting it as such.

But it allows us to speculate that the ease of learning on one hand,  and
suitability for contributing to the process of  creating  human beings
empowered in respect to their ability to interface with technology (maybe my
redefintion of "HCI") might - in some substantial respects - be opposing,
not complementary goals.

Unfortunately enough.

But not surprisingly, at all.


More information about the Edu-sig mailing list